The BBC has published a long and welcome feature on Afrofuturism, the term coined by former Boing Boing guestblogger Mark Dery to describe (in the words of Steve Barnes) "science fiction, fantasy and horror created by or featuring the children of the African diaspora (people of African origin living outside of the continent)."
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The Freemasons. Fight Club. The Bilderberg Group. The Illuminati. The Watcher’s Council. The Knights Templar. The Order of the Phoenix.
Bookburners is available from Amazon.
Bookburners, out now from Saga Press, is about a team of experts trying to keep magic from breaking out all over the world. It’s a secret team inside a (fictional) secret organization inside a (real) institution prone to secrecy. When Serial Box assembled its writing team for the first volume of Bookburners — Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty, and me — we didn’t have to look far for inspiration. I didn’t have to look much farther than my own town.
Those of us who live in and around New Haven, CT are no strangers to secret societies. We see Yale’s secret society buildings right on the street -- nearly windowless constructions that look like temples, or like tiny libraries. The societies that own them have names like Skull and Bones, Scroll and Key, Book and Snake, Berzelius, and no one outside of the societies is really sure what goes on them.
Book and Snake
Scroll and Key
Skull and Bones
A small secret organization even governs the enormous town green in the center of the city: the Committee of the Proprietors of Common and Undivided Lands at New Haven, a group of five people appointed for life to preserve and maintain the Green. When members die, they are replaced by other people who then serve for life. The Proprietors were formed at the start of the New Haven Colony in the 1600s, and they’re still going strong. Read the rest
The instructors for this summer's Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy writers' workshop are Dan Chaon, Lynda Barry, Nalo Hopkinson, Andrea Hairston, Cory Doctorow, C.C. Finlay and Rae Carson: the workshop runs from Jun 25-Aug 5 at UCSD in La Jolla, California. Read the rest
Octavia Butler is a name to conjure with: the first African-American woman to rise to prominence in science fiction, Butler's fiction inspired generations of writers by mixing rousing adventure stories with nuanced, razor-sharp parables about race and gender in America; she was the first science fiction writer to be awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant, and her sudden and untimely death
left a hole in the hearts of her readers, proteges and admirers.
Kameron "Geek Feminist Revolution" Hurley notes that writers like Octavia Butler crafted stories that feel eerily prescient of our present moments with books like Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents -- but not because they were fortune tellers, but because trumpism -- corrupt confiscation of wealth, overbroad policing powers, discriminatory hiring practices, impunity for violent abusers -- has been a daily fact of life for brown people, women and queer people. Read the rest
NAACP founder WEB Du Bois wasn't just a committed, effective activist for the rights of black people in America: he was also a prolific author of early 20th century science fiction and fantasy stories. Read the rest
Jaimee Hills writes, "Gerry Canavan has done a short writeup in an academic publication called The Eaton Journal of Archival Research in Science Fiction on the (amazing) contents of the Octavia E. Butler papers at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California." Read the rest
Ghost writes, "The Octavia Project, named for Octavia Butler, is a project 98% funded at Indigogo, with only a few days left. Helping them get over the top would be great, and the more they raise, the more girls they help. From their description:" Read the rest
Can science fiction be a form of social activism? Walidah Imarisha thinks so, and she's recruited everyone from LeVar Burton to Mumia Abu-Jamal to help her prove it. Read the rest
Award-winning horror writer David Nickle has been repeatedly frustrated in his attempts to have a frank and serious discussion of HP Lovecraft's undeniable racism; people want to hand-wave it as being a product of Lovecraft's times, but it is inseparable from Lovecraft's fiction. Read the rest
In episode 184 of the Sword and Laser, Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt talk of high fantasy, Neil Gaiman and saving humanity.
In the latest episode of the Sword and Laser, Veronica and Tom break down their June book pick, Promise of Blood
by Brian McClellan.
The Hooded Utilitarian is hosting an online roundtable on the work of Octavia Butler, one of science fiction's greatest writers, and also one of the first women of color to attain widespread recognition in the field. The initial installment, from Qiana Whitted, is a challenging, sharply critical essay about the ways that Butler's work (including Fledgling, a book I very much liked) literally nauseated the writer, and what that says about both Butler and her critics.
Ugliness, Empathy, and Octavia Butler
(Image: Leslie Howle) Read the rest
The Clarion Writers' Workshop at UC San Diego has announced its lineup of instructors for the 2014 session, and it's pretty spectacular: this year's writer-instructors are Gregory Frost, Geoff Ryman, Catherynne Valente, N.K. Jemisin, Ann VanderMeer, and Jeff VanderMeer.
Clarion is a six-week, intensive boot-camp for science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction writers. It counts among its graduates some of the very greatest writers in the field, from Octavia Butler to Bruce Sterling, as well as Lucius Sheppard, Kathe Koja, Nalo Hopkinson, Eileen Gunn, James Patrick Kelly, Ted Chiang, Tim Pratt, Tobias Buckell, and many others.
I'm an alumnus myself, as well as a frequent instructor and a member of the volunteer board of the Clarion Foundation, the nonprofit 501(c)3 that oversees the workshop. Clarion isn't the only way to become a better writer and to learn about the industry and how to earn a living in it, but it is absolutely one of the best. My own experience in 1992 was life-changing for me, and has left me committed to the workshop for life.
Applications close on March 1, 2014. Read the rest
Here's a guide to the charities the Boingers support in our own annual giving. As always, please add the causes and charities you give to in the comments below!
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Could there be a year that's more relevant to the EFF? As Edward Snowden has made abundantly clear, there is a titantic, historic battle underway to determine whether the Internet is there to liberate us or to enslave us. EFF's on the right side of history, and I figure giving them all I can afford is a cheap hedge against the NSA's version of the future. —CD
CC continues to make a difference -- this year, they released the 4.0 version of their flexible licenses, a major milestone. More than anyone else, CC has reframed the way we talk about creativity and copyright in the Internet era, providing practical, easy-to-use tools to make it possible for creators and audiences to work together in a shared mission of creating and enjoying culture.—CD Read the rest